The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 (Small Battles) (Hardcover)

The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 (Small Battles) By David Price Cover Image

The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 (Small Battles) (Hardcover)


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The Battle of Harlem Heights is an underappreciated milestone in American military history. The engagement on upper Manhattan Island on September 16, 1776, was the first successful battle for George Washington’s troops in the quest for independence from Great Britain and presaged the emergence of an effective fighting force among the citizen-soldiers who made up the Continental Army. The cooperative effort of regiments from New England, Maryland, and Virginia—whose men lacked any sense of national identity before the Revolution—indicated the potential for this fledgling army to cohere around a common national purpose and affiliation and become the primary instrument for securing America’s right to self-rule.
The action began when a contingent of rangers led by Col. Thomas Knowlton of Connecticut encountered British light infantry while conducting a reconnaissance mission on Washington’s orders. What began as a skirmish transformed into a full-fledged battle as both sides reinforced, and a heavy engagement continued for several hours until, with ammunition running low, the British withdrew. Washington decided not to pursue and risk confrontation with a larger force, thereby keeping his army intact. In The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776, David Price conveys the significance of the Continental Army’s first victory and highlights the role of one of its key participants, the largely forgotten Knowlton—the “father of American military intelligence”—who gave his life during the action while urging his rangers forward. No matter how many times U.S. Army troops have recorded a battlefield success over the past two and a half centuries—whether on American soil, in a European wood, across a Middle Eastern desert, or on a Pacific island—one thing about that history remains indisputable. They did it first at Harlem Heights.

Small Battles: Military History as Local History
Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Series Editors
Small Battles offers a fresh and important new perspective on the story of America’s early conflicts. It was the small battles, not the clash of major armies, that truly defined the fighting during the colonial wars, the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the hostilities on the frontiers. This is dramatic military history as seen through the prism of local history—history with a depth of detail, a feeling for place, people, and the impact of battle and its consequences that the story of major battles often cannot convey. The Small Battles series focuses on America’s military conflicts at their most intimate and revealing level.
David Price is the author of a trilogy about the “Ten Crucial Days” of the American Revolution—John Haslet’s World: An Ardent Patriot, the Delaware Blues, and the Spirit of 1776;The Road to Assunpink Creek: Liberty’s Desperate Hour and the Ten Crucial Days of the American Revolution; and Rescuing the Revolution: Unsung Patriot Heroes and the Ten Crucial Days of America’s War for Independence. He is a historical interpreter at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania and Princeton Battlefield State Park in New Jersey, and holds degrees in political science from Drew University and Rutgers University. He lives in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.
Product Details ISBN: 9781594163944
ISBN-10: 1594163944
Publisher: Westholme Publishing
Publication Date: January 6th, 2023
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: Small Battles
“David Price presents in less than 200 pages a remarkably well-researched, readable, and informative book on what is arguably a little-known, but very important episode of the American Revolution, the Battle of Harlem Heights. . . . Howe’s relentless campaign to take Manhattan paused after 16 September 1776, in the Battle of Harlem Heights. Often overlooked in George Washington’s disaster in New York, the battle is important for several reasons: It was the first successful battle and victory for George Washington’s Continental Army; it involved cooperation between New England, Maryland, and Virginia’s forces, i.e., it was a united American effort; it is celebrated as the birth of the Army’s Military Intelligence Corps; and it provided Washington valuable lessons for the rest of the Revolution. . . . The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 is another enjoyable and informative book in Westholme Publishing’s ‘Small Battles’ series. This series spotlights small, often overlooked yet important episodes of the American Revolution.”Journal of America’s Military Past

“A refreshing and detailed account of this little-known battle and the life of an interesting and significant man, Thomas Knowlton, whose rising contributions to the American cause were cut short by his death. This account should bring about more interest in, and understanding of, the early development of the Continental army.”—William L. Kidder, author of Ten Crucial Days: Washington’s Vision for Victory Unfolds

“The battle of Harlem Heights was a surprising victory for the American forces amid a series of disastrous defeats and a humiliating retreat. Author David Price relates the story of how a dispirited but unconquered force turned back an army that had only days before seemed invincible. Although the battlefield has long since been obliterated by more than two centuries of urbanization, Price relates the scenes of action to current locations in New York City.”—Glenn F. Williams, author of Dunmore’s War: The Last Conflict of America’s Colonial Era

“This carefully researched and well-documented book will appeal to both scholars and readers interested in the American Revolution.”—Kim Burdick, author of Revolutionary Delaware: Independence in the First State